Breakfast Torta: Chorizo, Egg, Black Bean and Cheese Sandwich

Breakfast Torta: Chorizo, Egg, Black Bean and Cheese Sandwich

Tortas in a cast iron grill pan

Red, Green or Christmas?  That’s a question you get asked a lot in New Mexico.  The answer has nothing to do with the holiday spirit or festive lights.  It’s about salsa, the Spanish word for sauce, which accompanies just about everything you can possibly order at a restaurant.  Personally, I find Christmas, using both red and green salsa, to be the best option — especially in the morning.  New Mexico has the BEST breakfast burritos!

Prickly pear cactus margaritas in Chimayo, NM

I happen to love spicy foods, especially during Summer.  When the weather heats up, I long for hot weather cuisines such as Jamaican, Ethiopian, Indian and Mexican.  The capsaicin found in chilies and peppers have long been known to boost circulation and cool the body, but beyond these health benefits, I find that spicy foods make me eat less and drink more.  And there’s nothing wrong with that!

Recently, my friends Charles and Tim told me they were hungry for breakfast.  It was the middle of a hot and sticky night and they needed an energy boost.  While sipping on a cold beer, my thoughts drifted to my travels in New Mexico, which made me smile and offer to cook.  In less than 15 minutes I whipped up a handful of breakfast burritos, and I’ll never forget how much fun Charles, Tim, Ivana, Joel and I had while eating them.

In Old Town Albuquerque

Since I can’t leave well enough alone, I decided to improve my breakfast burrito recipe.  It started off with the basics: eggs, shredded potatoes, hot sauce, bacon, salsa and tortillas — and has grown into a Breakfast Torta recipe.  Torta, is the Spanish word for bread, and in Mexican cuisine, tortas are hefty sandwiches.  My breakfast torta is inspired by New Mexico foods, with ingredients like crumbled chorizo, black beans, diced onions, a fried egg, and of course, plenty of salsa.

This breakfast torta is intended to wake up all of your senses in the morning by being spicy, savory, hearty, fragrant and flavorful.  I use a panini press to bring it all together, but you can use a heavy pan or even a foil lined brick to toast the sandwich.  You can also make and refrigerate the chorizo filling before hand, in order to save time in the morning.  However, if you find yourself playing short order cook in the middle of the night, taking orders for after-hours eats, this torta will surely keep the party going.

Breakfast Torta
Serves 4 hungry people

Food photography by Stephanie Cameron.

2    Bolillo Rolls (or 4 small ciabatta or kaiser rolls)
1    pound fresh chorizo, casing removed
1    small yellow onion, diced
2  cloves of garlic, chopped
1   14.5-ounce can black beans, drained
8   ounces queso fresco or cotija queso (or equal parts grated fresh mozzarella and crumbled goat cheese)
4  eggs
1   cup red salsa
1   cup green salsa (Hatch chile preferred, but tomatillo is a good substitute)

  1. In a cast-iron or heavy skillet, crumble the chorizo into small bits over medium-high heat. When the sausage is mostly cooked, after 3–4 minutes, add the diced onions and garlic, and cook until onions are clear and transparent, about 3 minutes more. Add the drained black beans, and stir well to combine.  Adjust flavors if needed (using seasonings such as salt, pepper, cumin and oregano) and remove from heat.
  2. Split the bread rolls in half. Use your fingers to remove the inside breading. Save this bread for breadcrumbs or for garnish for soup at a later time. Slice, grate or crumble the cheese as needed.
  3. Heat a panini press or flat griddle pan.
  4. In a separate pan, fry the eggs (I prefer over-easy, to a medium softness, but scrambled works too).
  5. Fill the bread cavities with the chorizo mixture then top with eggs and cheese. Add the remaining sliced bread to create a sandwich. Place sandwich in panini press or on heated griddle. If using a griddle, be sure to weigh the sandwich down with the bottom of a heavy pan, plate or brick. You will need to flip the sandwich to toast both sides.
  6. Once sandwich is toasted, allow to rest for 1 minute then slice diagonally.  Serve with two salsas for dipping.

My talented friend, photographer and New Mexico native, the incredible Stephanie Cameron


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